Do the 'Game of Thrones' Actors Actually Like the Show?

Dan Clarendon
HBO

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 8 of Game of Thrones.]

Jon Snow portrayer Kit Harington warned Game of Thrones fans back in September that the hit HBO drama’s ending won’t please everyone, but we’d be surprised if he expected the degree of fan backlash that has burned up the internet like wildfire during this eighth and final season. Quotes from other Thrones actors, however, lead us to think that even the cast is divided over the way things shaped up.

Take an Emilia Clarke clip that has recently gone viral. In the 15-second snippet, Clarke nervously laughs when Entertainment Tonight asks if she was happy with the show’s swan song. “Best season ever?” she says, not sounding entirely convincing. That said, the full interview makes it seem like the Daenerys Targaryen portrayer was just cracking wise to avoid giving away spoilers, but it’s still a discomfiting moment.

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After Varys’ death, actor Conleth Hill told Entertainment Weekly he prefers the earlier years of the show to the last couple of seasons, though his admitted “dismay” might also relate to his character becoming less integral to the plot. “That's been my feeling the last couple seasons, that my character became more peripheral, that they concentrated on others more,” he said.

Conleth Hill as Varys (HBO)

“That's fine. It's the nature of a multi-character show. It was kind of frustrating. As a whole, it's been overwhelmingly positive and brilliant, but I suppose the last couple seasons weren't my favorite.”

Lena Headey, meanwhile, admitted to the magazine that she initially had a “mixed” reaction to Cersei Lannister’s death, before she talked it over with scene partner Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. “I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody,” she explained.

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A pairing between these two seemed to have been built up for seasons, only to be quickly toppled at the Winterfell gates.

Speaking of actorly ambivalence, Gwendoline Christie told the mag she had to “go for a walk” after finding out what Jamie Lannister did to her character, Brienne of Tarth. (“I went very red. I was very upset,” she said.)

She also revealed that she had questions for showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff: “It was partially because I love this character and I read about this character [in George R.R. Martin’s novels] before I saw the show. So we all have our own ideas about how we think the character is going to develop. Sometimes your ideas become set in your mind and sometimes David and Dan write something you didn’t expect and find difficult to comprehend.”

Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei (HBO)

And Nathalie Emmanuel connected the backlash to Missandei’s death to the fact that the HBO show just isn’t so diverse. “Generally, I understand people’s outrage, I understand people’s heartbreak, because this is the conversation around representation,” she told EW. “It’s safe to say that Game of Thrones has been under criticism for their lack of representation, and the truth of it is that Missandei and Grey Worm have represented so many people because there’s only two of them. So this is a conversation going forward about when you’re casting shows like this, that you are inclusive in your casting.”

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In other news, Peter Dinklage seemed flummoxed that Tyrion Lannister would hide out in the Winterfell crypts while the Night King was reanimating corpses, Pilou Asbæk struggled to explain why Euron Greyjoy’s aim got so much worse, and Harington said the finale would either be “disappointing” or “epic.”

Our hunch? As actors, the Game of Thrones actors are very glad to have starred on one of the biggest shows in TV history. As fans, they share many of our frustrations.

Game of Thrones, Series Finale, Sunday, May 19, 9/8c, HBO